KLEO Art Residences

  • area / size 67,645 sqft
  • Completed 2019
  • JGMA completed a thoughtful place for creative living and working with the KLEO Art Residences in Chicago, Illinois.

    The KLEO Art Residences intentionally challenge norms in affordable housing construction by making natural light and quality of living the overriding priority in the project. The KLEO project represents the first of its kind in Chicago construction where polycarbonate panels represent the majority of the exterior envelope.

    Major project design challenges were derived through numerous listening sessions with community stakeholders to understand what the Washington Park area needed to create positive change. After numerous meetings, the consensus was to develop an affordable housing complex that was specifically tailored towards servicing the needs of local artists, an up and coming profession within the area. The design team then used the opportunity to meet with local artists within the community to understand what living means to them. The common denominator in this exploration was a very benign and important response; it was to provide maximum daylight within the interior spaces for their working studios. An element that is often overlooked within affordable housing complexes.

    In addition to creating comfortable living and working spaces, the artist’s conveyed to the design team that the community lacked a sufficient location for them to sell their art and suggested that spaces be integrated within the design to cover this deficiency. It was also conveyed that spaces in which the artists could typically afford more often than not, lacked life through design. It was therefore requested that the newly designed KLEO Art Residences would offer an interiority that would bring pride and vibrancy to a space in which they would not normally see within their price range.

    In response of insufficient workable daylight, the design team chose instead not to remove transparent materials like glass as commonly seen in affordable housing projects, but to give tenants something extraordinary, diffused and vibrant natural daylighting via a polycarbonate façade. As a result, the KLEO art residences explore natural light, from diffused to direct to emphasize the necessity of natural light in affordable housing. The implementation has served as a catalyst for the use of new materials on low income housing projects. During daytime, the interiors literally glow with natural daylight from the polycarbonate façade, allowing for improved workable spaces for artists to complete their work within.

    In order to respond to inadequate places for artists to distribute their work, the ground level contains retail spaces and artist programs serving as working studios for the artists to showcase, exhibit and sell their work to the community. This space implements use of natural materials for artists to work around. For example, OSB was used for all millwork, while hardwood floors were used to maximize longevity of the space all while providing a raw aspect to the interior.

    Lastly, the design team chose to respond to the lack of vibrancy within typical affordable living spaces through color application. Colors derived from local murals were used to distinguish floor levels in the building by using pops of color within lobbies and corridors to liven spaces that would otherwise be treated with standard finishes.

    Architect: JGMA
    General Contractor: JJ Dufy Construction
    Photography: Mark Ballogg, Lee Bey, courtesy of JGMA